Action Plan for Australian Marsupials and Monotremes

Caution: archived content

This content may have been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Wildlife Australia, December 1996
ISBN 0 6422 1395 X

Recovery Outline - Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby

Recovery Outline

Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby

1 Family: Macropodidae

2 Scientific name: Petrogale penicillata (Gray, 1825)

3 Common name: Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby

4 Conservation status: Vulnerable: C2a

5 Intra-specific taxa:

None (Eldridge and Close 1992). However, Close et al. (1994) found that the Gippsland population was genetically distinct. The relationship of this population with others needs investigation.

6 Former distribution:

South-eastern Australia. Widespread along the Great Dividing Range from Nanango (south-east Qld) south to East Gippsland (Vic.). Also scattered populations in suitable habitat across the western slopes of NSW and the Grampian Ranges and nearby outcrops in western Vic.

7 Current distribution:

Much reduced in Vic

Much reduced in Vic., where remnant populations remain in the Grampians and in Gippsland. Also much reduced in most of NSW; now absent from western slopes and plains of NSW except for populations in the Warrumbungle Ranges. Probably extinct in the ACT. Remains widespread in upper reaches of coastal rivers in northern NSW and south-eastern Qld., although it appears the populations in Lamington NP are extinct and other populations are in decline.

Occurs in the following conservation reserves: Queen Mary Falls, Mt Barney, Sundown and Main Range NPs (Qld), Warrumbungle, Mt Kaputar (very rare or locally extinct), Blue Mountains, Kanangra Boyd, Oxley Wild Rivers, Guy Fawkes River, Yengo, Wollemi and Wadbilliga NPs, and Jenolan Caves Reserve (NSW), Grampians, Snowy River Alpine NPs (Vic.).

8 Habitat:

Suitable rocky outcrops, boulder piles and cliffs; also utilises tree limbs.

9 Reasons for decline:

Predation by foxes and presumed habitat degradation due to goat, sheep and rabbit grazing. Also possibly due to changes in fire frequency and predation by feral cats and wild dogs. A sustained commercially-driven period of hunting (bounties were paid on over half a million rock-wallabies between 1894 and 1914 (Short and Milkovits 1990) and an extensive fur trade from pre-1890 to 1927 (D. Lunney, B. Law and C. Rummery pers. comm.)) led to the decline of many populations and local extinctions, and may have been the primary cause of the initial decline of the species, at least in central and southern NSW. The species was also hunted extensively in the Grampians area of Vic.

10 Additional studies required for recovery objectives and actions to be defined:

10.1 Survey current and former distribution in all three range States.

10.2 Develop and apply techniques for control of feral predators and study their impact by monitoring rock-wallaby populations post-control.

10.3 Document genetic differences between colonies and factors inhibiting movement.

10.4 Determine the relationships between floristic habitat quality, fire and predators.

11 Recovery objectives:

11.1 Halt the decline of the species by management of key populations, especially by control of foxes.

11.2 Extend fox control to other populations as techniques for widespread fox control are developed and effectiveness of fox control confirmed.

11.3 Re-introduce to former colonies once fox control is in place and other threats (eg, goats) are understood and managed. Re-introductions should be based on a sound knowledge of genetic differences between populations.

12 Management actions completed or under way:

12.1 Surveys undertaken in the Grampians and East Gippsland.

12.2 Three years of fox control around Red Rock population (Grampians, Vic.); 2.5 years at Kangaroo Valley (NSW).

12.3 Survey of southern NSW, central NSW limestone outcrops, northern NSW, Wollemi NP and Yengo NP.

12.4 Population Recovery Plan completed for Warrumbungles; in draft for Shoalhaven populations.

12.5 Management recommendations completed for southern NSW, central NSW limestone outcrops, Yengo NP, Parr State Recreation Area and surrounding lands.

12.6 Research into impact of foxes on some populations.

12.7 Construction of a captive breeding compound and fox baiting in the Jenolan Caves Reserve.

12.8 Involve community at Kangaroo Valley through established 'Friends of the rock wallaby' network.

13 Management actions required:

13.1 Form national Recovery Team.

13.2 Control feral predators (foxes, cats, dogs) and competitors (goats, rabbits) and monitor rock-wallaby populations to assess effects of control measures.

13.3 Assess distribution and abundance throughout range.

13.4 Study diet of P. penicillata and other sympatric herbivores, including seasonal changes and documentation of diet over time, to assess effects of introduced herbivores.

13.5 Conduct genetic analyses of remaining populations and prepare genetic management strategy if warranted.

13.6 Prepare and implement captive management and translocation strategy.

13.7 Declare additional conservation reserves in Kangaroo Valley (NSW).

13.8 Promote habitat connectivity between subpopulations; form conservation agreements with landholders.

13.9 Manage habitat to promote desirable floristic elements and control weeds.

13.10 Protect colonies where necessary from catastrophic fires by hazard reduction burns.

14 Organisation(s) responsible for conservation of species:

Vic. Department of Natural Resources and Environment, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Qld Department of Environment.

15 Other organisations or individuals involved:

Healesville Sanctuary, Monash University, University of Western Sydney - Macarthur, University of New England, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve (ACT), Macquarie University, Jenolan Caves Trust, Western Plains Zoo.

16 Staff and financial resources required for recovery to be carried out:

Staff resources required - 1997-2001

Financial resources required -

Action agency ESP/FPP Total Cost
NSW - impact of foxes research (3 years) $151 000 $151 000 $302 000
- survey and predator control $75 000 $50 000 $125 000
- community involvement and liaison $10 000 $10 000 $20 000
- conservation agreements $15 000 $15 000 $30 000

Vic - Monitoring (Alps Liaison Committee) $75 000 $75 000
- Predator control $75 000 $75 000

Qld - survey and fox control (2 years) $50 000 $50 000 $100 000
- survey and fox baiting (next three years) $30 000 $30 000 $60 000

Total $471 000 $306 000

Total $787 000


This species is believed to be rapidly declining and may meet criteria for Endangered by 2000. Some authorities consulted considered that it was endangered within both Victoria and New South Wales. However, at the Workshop, it was agreed that the species met criteria for Vulnerable on a national basis.


Close R.L., Eldridge M.D.B., Bell J.N. and Reside J. 1994. A genetic study of the Brush-tailed Rock wallaby Petrogale penicillata in east Gippsland and relevance for the management of the species in Victoria. Pacific Conservation Biology 1, 367-371.

Eldridge M.D.B. and Close R.K. 1995. Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby. Pp. 383-385 in R. Strahan (Ed.) The Mammals of Australia. Reed Books, Chatswood, NSW.

Short J. and Milkovits G. 1990. Distribution and status of the brush-tailed rock-wallaby in south-eastern Australia. Australian Wildlife Research 17, 169-179.

Wong V., Law B., Rummery C., Dovey L. and Lunney D. 1994. Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby (Petrogale penicillata) research recovery plan implementation. Report to Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, April 1994 (unpublished).


Recovery Outline

Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby (SA+NSW)

1 Family: Macropodidae

2 Scientific Name: Petrogale xanthopus xanthopus Gray, 1855

3 Common Name: Yellow-footed Rock-wallaby (SA+NSW)

4 Conservation status: Vulnerable: C2a

5 Intra-specific taxa:

One of two disjunct subspecies. P. x. celeris is LR(nt).

6 Former distribution:

Flinders and Gawler Ranges, Olary Hills, Eyre Peninsula (SA), Coturaundee, Gap, Grey, Byngnano and Barrier Ranges (NSW).

7 Current distribution:

At least 24 colonies are known to have become extinct in SA
At least 24 colonies are known to have become extinct in SA, most of these represent at least half of the known colonies in the Olary Hills and Gawler Ranges regions. There is evidence of a general population decline in the Flinders Ranges, and that rock-wallabies were present in greater densities in the past.

In NSW, no populations are known to remain outside the Gap and Coturaundee Ranges.

Includes Flinders Ranges, Mt Remarkable and Gammon Ranges NPs and Telowie Gorge and Dutchmans Stern CPs (SA) and Coturaundee NR and Mootwingee NP (NSW).

8 Habitat:

Isolated rocky outcrops, cliffs and ridges in semi-arid country.

9 Reasons for decline:

Predation by foxes, competition with domestic and wild introduced herbivores (particularly goats, rabbits and sheep), wildfire.

Over-exploitation by hunters for export of pelts contributed to their demise between the 1880s and 1920s.

10 Additional studies required for recovery objectives and actions to be defined:

South Australia

10.1 Identify status of colonies between Flinders Range and Gammon Ranges NPs.

New South Wales

10.2 Determine impact of predation and assess required levels of predator control, by controlling foxes at some colonies and monitoring these and other colonies.

10.3 Study genetic diversity within and between populations, especially between SA and NSW.

11 Recovery objectives:

11.1 To increase numbers in extant populations to ensure that these colonies remain viable.

11.2 In the longer term, re-establish colonies at other sites within parts of its former distribution.

12 Management actions completed or under way:

12.1 Integrated predator and competitor control program under way in Olary, Central Flinders and Gawler Ranges, and Mount Remarkable NP.

12.2 Experimental control of foxes within the Coturaundee NR.

12.3 The removal of goats, through mustering and shooting.

12.4 Annual monitoring by aerial survey.

13 Management actions required:

13.1 Targeted active management.

South Australia

13.2 Ongoing maintenance of predator and competitor control areas.

13.3 Identification of the role and relative importance of each threatening agent and process. Evaluation of the most practical, effective and cost efficient management action required to overcome threatening processes.

13.4 Examination of the genetic implications of population isolation and decline followed by recovery from low numbers.

13.5 Integration of rock-wallaby recovery programs with other conservation management efforts to improve the potential for long-term protection.

New South Wales

13.6 Continued monitoring of rock-wallaby numbers.

13.7 Ecological and population studies.

13.8 Assessment of the minimum level of predator control required to ensure rock-wallaby population growth.

13.9 Conservation of habitat outside reserve system, possible use of fox- and goat-proof fence.

13.10 Re-establishment of former colonies, utilising captive breeding and translocation.

14 Organisation(s) responsible for conservation of species:

SA Department of Environment and Natural Resources, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

15 Other organisations or individuals involved:

Adelaide, Monarto, Taronga, Western Plains, Melbourne, Los Angeles, San Diego Zoos and Cleland Conservation Park, Earth Sanctuaries, private landholders and leaseholders.

16 Staff and financial resources required for recovery to be carried out:

Staff resources required - NSW 1 Project Manager
1 Technical Officer

Financial resources required - over two years

Action agency ESP Total Cost
Project Manager $135 000 $0 $135 000
Technical Officer $0 $84 500 $84 500
Fox control (Coturaundee Range) $0 *$33 000 $33 000
Genetic analysis $18 000 $0 $18 000
Population dynamics $0 $10 000 $10 000
Home range and habitat use $0 $55 000 $55 000
SA predator and competitor control $200 000 *$200 000 $200 000

Total $353 000 $382 500

* funding already provided by Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia

Total $735 500


Lim L., Sheppard N., Smith P. and Smith J. 1992. The biology and management of the yellow-footed Rock-wallaby (Petrogale xanthopus) in NSW. NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Species Management Report Number 10.